Social Capital in the Clinical Trial World: A Recruitment Perspective


At Leapcure, we are at the forefront of building networks between the Patient Advocacy sphere and the Clinical Trial sphere. We foster and nurture relationships with Patient Advocacy Groups (PAGs), with a view to giving their patient networks direct access to clinical trials for their conditions. Given that PAGs are a trusted voice for patients, this alone raises patient confidence in the clinical trial process. As such, trial recruitment and retention rates from these sources are likely to be higher than recruitment through more direct and traditional advertising avenues. From a patient perspective, the process is also more ‘human’ and therefore, less intimidating- often one of the main barriers to recruitment.

The theory of Social Capital can go a long way to explaining the important role of PAGs in clinical trial recruitment; the theory emphasizes the power of human networks and relationships between/within groups in achieving goals, noting that social capital (just like financial capital) is a productive entity. In relation to health, individuals who are involved in a community enriched with support, conversation and information are more likely to engage with goals and opportunities put before them in this space. This can be largely attributed to higher levels of trust, which in relation to one’s health, is set at a much higher bar than across other aspects of our lives.

I first learned about social capital when supporting community development in Eastern Uganda. The continuous fostering of relationships between different aspects of the community, such as health, financial, education helped build capacity across the board. These stronger and more varied networks encouraged widespread and simultaneous growth across all aspects of community life. Considering this in our sphere, we can highlight the strengthening of relationships between medical research and PAG arenas as productive.  

In a nutshell, the more we build social capital between PAG communities and the clinical trial world, the more humanized and accessible the process becomes for patients. Trial recruitment becomes more widespread, PAGs are more aware of the opportunities best suited to their patient networks, and patients are connected to clinical trial organizations through a pathway of pre-established trust, making them feel more human and approachable. Social Capital equals trust, an absence of which is a well-documented blocker in clinical trial recruitment.

That is our focus at Leapcure- relationships and trust between PAGs and clinical trials.




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